Rating: 4 out of 5.

As a major fan of both Thomas Mann (Me & Earl & The Dying Girl, Project X) and Emma Roberts (Scream Queens, Scream 4), About Fate was a rom-com that immediately went on my radar based on casting alone. This sweet and adorable movie doesn’t need fancy bells and whistles, wise-cracking sidekicks, or crazy plot twists to get the job done. Instead, Tiffany Paulsen (who apparently really knows how to play on Emma’s strengths having also written the scripts for Holidate and Nancy Drew) and director Marius Weisberg depict a pure and genuine meet-cute that left me with an ear-to-ear grin. For fans of this over-saturated genre, About Fate presents a heartwarming story about two people who may be destined to be together. 

Real estate agent Margot (Roberts) and public defender Griffin (Mann) both live at 15 Maple Drive—one at Alcove Westwood, the other at Alcove Norwood—and both have 7:30pm reservations at Bennigan’s restaurant. Today is a big day for Margot and Griffin—they each have planned wedding proposals with their significant others! Cocky, spiritually-centered Kip (Lewis Tan, Mortal Kombat, Deadpool 2) actually ends up breaking up with Margot, whilst Griffin’s date, influencer and commercial star Clementine (Madelaine Petsch, Riverdale, Jane) tells Griffin to re-propose at her New Year’s Eve party tomorrow so all her sponsors and friends can see the “real” proposal. Deflated egos and hearts broken in the wake of the Bennigan’s fiasco for both parties, Margot and Griffin meet outside briefly after Clementine steals Margot’s Uber in an entitled stride of status. Griffin offers to help Margot, and she replies “Not unless you’ve got an engagement ring in your pocket.” Ironically enough, he actually does.

The very next day, Griffin gets absolutely plastered out with his friends celebrating his first attempt at proposal. Despite promising Clementine he would be sober for her party, Griffin ends up in a cab on New Year’s Eve. In his drunken state, Griffin gets home at 15 Maple, and assumes Clementine has redecorated. His cat looks a bit different, but he nevertheless takes a shower and passes out nude in the bed. Margot returns to a “naked deranged man” in her home, but the situation de-escalates as Griffin struggles to explain himself while covering up using Margot’s well-worn one-eyed teddy bear. Kip shows up to “apologize,” shocked that Margot already has a new man. Kip was supposed to be Margot’s date for her sister’s wedding tonight, but what if Griffin could pretend to be Kip? Thus, a plan is born.

Just one night of playing pretend, what’s the worst that could happen? None of Margot’s family has ever met Kip before in the three months they have been together. Kip is a constructor and a black belt, so Griffin may certainly have his work cut out for him. The only caveat is that he has to leave Margot’s sister’s wedding by 8:00pm, lest he be late for Clementine’s party, and subsequent re-do of his proposal. The circumstances of chance stack as the night goes on in a series of misadventures. At first, it’s a few small things. Margot and Griffin both have cats and Breakfast at Tiffany’s posters hung up in their respective kitchens. Circumstances of their arrangement run deeper than that, though. Could fate be at work, a force pulling them together against all odds?

In the face of difficulties, Griffin is always the sweetest and kindest person. When they have to break into a bridal store that closed early, he is sure to leave money for the damages he caused in retrieving the sister’s veil. Margot, who has never gotten along well with her family and has difficulty finding a spiritual and intellectual match for herself, is taken aback by Griffin’s charm and charism. Margot is dissuaded by constant mentions of “fate” throughout the day, but there may be more to it… Throughout the movie, even though Margot and Griffin are just playing pretend, one can full the pull of romance tugging at them. Emma Roberts and Thomas Mann are delightful to watch—Mann plays up a gag where he is constantly shedding his clothes, and Roberts is sincere as Margot tries her hardest to impress others.

What About Fate does so well lies in the film’s adorable simplicity and approach to characterization. I was anxiously waiting for the moment when everything would work itself out. Wedding hijinks and angry exes can’t even stop what appears destined to happen. Tonally, About Fate occasionally pokes fun at rom-com tropes, but still leans into them with ease. Feel-good vibes and exceptionally good chemistry between Thomas Mann and Emma Roberts make About Fate one rom-com New Year’s Eve fantasy whose charms are impossible to deny.

About Fate weaves together a timeless love story when it debuts in limited release theaters on Friday, September 9th.

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